I was hoping you could help me. I’ve been writing for some time. I’ve been doing short stories and poems. I share them to my classmates and followers online and am hoping to get some of them published in a collection after I graduate. Recently though, I’ve come under fire. I wrote something about slavery and now some of the people I go to school with have been retweeting what I wrote and calling me all kinds of names. There was nothing in my post that was racist and I wasn’t trying to be offensive, but they’re basically saying that because I’m not black, I shouldn’t be trying to tackle those topics.
Do you think this is some kind of appropriation? Why is everyone so mad and how should I respond to it? I sent you a link to my work. Please let me know what you think… just please keep me anonymous for now.
(Anonymous by request)
Urrgh… this kind of thing really annoys me. You have no idea how many emails I get from people asking me what to do in these cases. It actually burns me up to see writers go dark because the euphemistically-named Twitter mob came for them. Like really annoys me. Look, I’m not going to even get into who should or should not be able to write about certain subjects. I keep my site apolitical as much as possible but, while I’m sure someone will say that I’m speaking from a position of privilege on this (eye roll), but we have something called freedom of speech in the United States. No one can stop you from writing about these topics.
My advice to you is simple; GET OFF TWITTER!!!
I don’t mean fully close out your profile, but don’t post your work there nor use it as your primary outreach to people. Use a blogging site. Most of them (MOST!!!) are pretty civil. I might suggest staying away from Tumblr or something like that, but WordPress is actually pretty good.
While I do realize that Twitter is good for advertising, the site has become absolutely cancerous in recent years when it comes to things like politics. When I say cancerous, we are talking cult-level It’s become a breeding ground for almost every form of outrage and it’s not the place to really thrive creatively.
As for your detractors, saying things like that to you… I’m going to give you the best piece of advice you could ever receive on how to deal with these people. Pull a Dwayne Johnson. What do I mean by that? Simple. IGNORE THEM!!!! Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson come under fire at least twice from people like this. First for taking his kids to an aquarium, second because he’s portraying a paraplegic man in a movie. When someone lashed out at him, what did he do? Nothing.
It was brilliant. He took the age-old piece of advice that all of our parents tried to teach us as children. He IGNORED THEM! Guess what happened next? Again, NOTHING! Why? Because the truth is that these cry bullies that are part of the twitter mob typically have no real power unless you give it to them. If you apologize and try to ‘do right by them’, they own you until you’ve satisfied whatever contrition they demand from you… and you never will. Ignore them. They have no real power, no voting power, are often mentally unwell, and no real influence. The most that will happen is that they’ll write an article in some small-time publishing that only other people in their circle read and the whole thing will be forgotten in a few days. This is not worth stressing yourself out over, trust me.
Get off twitter. That’s the best advice I can give you.
Also, I read some of the stuff you posted and… WOW! Your poems are particularly fantastical! Drop me a line if you’d like me to feature your work on my site! I’d love my readers to see some of it. It’s right up our alley!
Readers, what advice do you have for our friend here? Is there anything else you’d suggest she do? Let her know in the comments.
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.
Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!
Catch you on the flip side!
Ignore the haters. Great advice. I believe it helps a writer to put themselves in a character that has gone through something they haven’t. We might not get it right, but trying to see other perspectives should never be a bad thing.
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Good advice, Jim.
I’m tired of the knee-jerk accusations, and you’re right – as soon as you acknowledge the concerns of the manufactured-outrage mob, you’re done for. They’re like the bullies who harassed me for weeks on the school bus – eventually they moved on because they got tired of not being able to get a rise out of me.
The more annoying part of this to me is the irony/hypocrisy around causes, like accusations of cultural appropriation. In today’s society, you’ll see that the mobs making the accusation claim to be standing up against the oppression some other group is suffering, but they’re actually appropriating the other group’s cause to use for their own. As I recall, the Native American population as a whole had no problem with the Washington Redskins, but instead the outrage was created by “well-meaning” anti-bullies with their own agendas (which really seem to be to beat others into giving them power by submitting to their ever changing, politically correct rules. Fascists claiming to be anti-fascist.
END OF RANT
As far as whether a writer should write about a demographic he isn’t part of:
We are all members of the HUMAN race, and although there are some generalized differences in each group’s experiences, it breaks down even further than demographics. EACH INDIVIDUAL IS UNIQUE, no matter how someone tries to subdivide us. The purpose of writing is to explore those differences AND commonalities, to better understand each other. This is defeated if no one can write about anything other than their own experience. A writer spends a lot of time trying to get inside the heads of people who are different from themselves to explore those differences. To demand that I should only write about my own experiences puts an end to that attempt to help us understand each other.
Write what you want and ignore the outrage appropriators.
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Great advice on both counts. I will only add my ten cents to say, I feel the same, as do most rational people. Some folks only want free speech as long as it agrees with their narrative. Don’t be put off and let someone else dictate what you can and can’t write, consult with your own conscience and follow that star.
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